Stagecraft Podcast: Lea Salonga Talks Broadway, Her New Album and Getting ‘Hit in the Gut’

Lea Salonga wants to get “hit in the gut.”

That’s what gets her to Broadway, the busy international performer says in the latest episode of “Stagecraft,” Variety‘s theater podcast. “I think I just have to get hit in the gut,” she explains of the projects that get her back to New York, where she first became a fan favorite as the original Kim in “Miss Saigon.” “If there’s something important that the show is trying to say, then I feel like I’m compelled to be a part of it. It’s not just, ‘Oh I love the music; oh, I love the score.’ There has to be something deeper.”

That certainly applies to her current Broadway project, the well-reviewed revival of “Once on This Island” — “It’s about people’s resilience. It’s about rebuilding. I come from an island nation,” notes Salonga, who was born in the Philippines and still calls it home. “Allegiance,” the 2015 show that was her most recent Broadway credit before “Once on This Island,” also got her in the gut for very personal reasons.

Salonga goes on to talk about her new album, “Bahaghari,” a collection of newly orchestrated folk-song classics from the Philippines. She sings in some half-dozen different languages on the record.

“The only thing that I’m really hoping is that school teachers get their hands on it so that they’re able to play it for their kids in class,” she says of the album. “And for school kids outside of the Philippines, just to give it a listen and see what music means to someone else from another part of the world.”

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